I hope you are keeping well – more than ever I mean this!
When I was much younger I lost my grandfather on my mothers side and an uncle on my dads side, I knew and loved them both, but I was also a child who could not fully grasp the magnitude of grief or was I able to build deep meaningful relationships beyond the people I saw daily. I say all this to say I experienced my first real loss of a loved one in 2020. My grandmother had been on and off ill for the last two years and sadly passed away mid-June and my aunty suddenly passed away the day we were expecting her at our house to spend a month, in early July. Both these events are truly devastating on their own – and to happen in such a short time frame was the biggest shock to my system.
Neither one of my relatives passed away due to Covid-19 however, in some strange and twisted way the pandemic has almost acted as a buffer; before they passed, I had seen so many “RIP” posts and sent so many condolence messages that at least the thought of death was not entirely foreign.
Both my aunt and my grandma lived full lives and hearing what people have said about them in the past few months is a testament to that. One lesson I have learnt in my own mourning is that you can be consumed by your perspective. So I have adopted the mindset that my grandma and aunt had to go because they have made their mark and fulfilled their God-given purpose.
“The only way to get over a death is by seeing it as a life completed, instead of a life interrupted.” ― Anonymous
During this pandemic most of us will have experienced and/or witnessed more loss than ever. For myself it has been a journey with a lot of tears but slowly I have been able to laugh again so I thought I’d share some tips for those who may be experiencing something similar. If you have lost a loved one, I am so sorry for your loss, I hope you find comfort and I hope this post is helpful.
“We never truly get over a loss, but we can move forward and evolve from it.”— Elizabeth Berrien
BE IN YOUR FEELINGS
“Be strong for XYZ” “You are so strong” “Stay strong”
While I can recognise these statements are often said with good intent, the truth is they are often very unproductive for those dealing with loss. The truth is when you are in agony the last thing you want to be is “strong” and that’s okay. Take the time you need to grieve and heal, when you spend so much time being strong for those around you… one day your feelings will catch up with you. So start the process and grief the way you want to not what others expect from you.
“While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.” — Samuel Johnson
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:26
TAKE A BREAK
For someone like me who started a new job during lockdown this one was very difficult and frankly I failed. When my grandmother passed I took 2 days off work and still actually worked during one of those days off. When my aunt passed, I took 1 week and 2 days off work. I remember my GP asking me “Are you sure? You’ve gone through a lot I think you need more time”. But I felt so much pressure to just “get on with it”, each time I went back I was flooding my keyboard in tears between meetings and pretending I was okay because I did not want to seem incapable of doing my job.
Truly there is no right or wrong amount of time to take off work. What is important is that you spend this time actually resting – not feeling guilty for it, not distracting yourself, not worrying about work but just resting!
For those people in your life who are yet to experience loss, they may struggle to empathise with you no matter how much they try to. To ensure people are showing up for you in the way you would like… tell them how you feel so they can make informed choices on how best to show up for you. However, I say this with caution; there have been people I have cried to and those I have expressed my weakness to that just left it there, no follow up call or text… nothing, so brace yourself.
Don’t focus on those who are not there for you
As mentioned above, some people simply will not be there for you in the way you expected or would like. No matter how “close” you are to people you expect a certain level of compassion in these times. At first you may doubt yourself, doubt your friendships, doubt everything, but I want you to know you are not alone. In fact, from doing my own research a very common part of the grieving process is getting rid of certain relationships. While I won’t advise burning bridges left, right and centre – life changing incidents truly open our eyes to who has our back and who is just there for once in a while banter. So don’t spend time chasing and stressing over those who don’t show you the compassion you desire and focus on the ones that that do, most especially God.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit – Psalm 34:18
Gratitude & good memories
As mentioned earlier, an important part of mourning is perspective. Focus on all the amazing memories and less on their passing itself. Focus on all the times you saw them happy rather than the times you saw them weak.
“Remember me with smiles and laughter, for that is how I will remember you all. If you can only remember me with tears, then don’t remember me at all.”– Laura Ingles Wilder
There is no manual on how to mourn or grieve, when it all comes down to it we won’t always do everything right especially in the height of our emotions. What we all can do is learn from the ones we have lost and live a life ourselves and they can be truly proud of.
“Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.” – Anne Roiphe
Another thing we can all do is remember how precious and short life is, and from this learning to live each day to the fullest and not letting the small and petty things of life steal our peace.
“Never take life for granted. Savor every sunrise, because no one is promised tomorrow…or even the rest of today.” ― Eleanor Brownn
Tool that helped me: Bible plan on You Version Bible app: Finding Meaning in Mourning: Walking through Grief.
We hope you have enjoyed reading these posts as much as we have enjoyed writing them. But it’s not over yet! So far we have been able to highlight some of our insecurities and how they may manifest. We were then able to realise that the best way to grow and move forward from them is to be compassionate towards ourselves and to avoid any distractions and we have come to the realisation our only real competition should be ourselves.
Even though this series is called The SELF Series… it’s time to take that step into things bigger than ourselves. Purpose!
Purpose the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.
This journey of knowing and loving who we are is so important but of what good is it if our SELF as no impact on things and people around us? We strongly believe the first steps we have taken in this series are stepping stones to us being the whole beings we need to be in order to successfully pursue our purpose.
“Everyone has been made for some particular work and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.”
“The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, or gives you a sense of meaning, joy, or passion.”
So before we begin to delve deeper into purpose, let us take a look at the current place we are in.
Making a living will be defined differently for us all, but essentially it is the thing that you do to help you survive, and it will always result in receiving some financial gain.
So, let us consider where we are now, currently, circumstances will be different for all of us, especially with the effect the pandemic has had on many places of work. It may be that you are employed, or you have been furloughed by work. For others, you may have been made unemployed, for which we offer our sincerest apologies and wish you all the best finding new employment, for some you may have a side hustle in addition to the aforementioned (claps in appreciation), however, mutually we can say we are all doing something to try and make a living.
Making a living is necessary, but it should not be your ‘be all and end all’. It should be a feature in your whole life and it should support you in living out your purpose, once you have discovered it.
When thinking about the jobs, activities, and actions you take to make a living it is important to note that there is much to be taken from these and they can carry you a long way. These skills are transferrable. They will help you later down the line and can merge effectively later in other aspects of your life. Disclaimer: we recognise for some of us, the impact we have in our day job is us fulfilling purpose.
In employment, many of us work to deadlines or targets, this has taught us the skill of things like time management and prioritising. If you have a business or do other extracurricular work servicing others you know how this is important. This has been crucially helpful for me personally (Eni), as it actually highlighted areas I need to improve on. I can confidently say the job I currently work, as a Psychological Therapist, has massively improved my skills of empathy and understanding and these have been transferrable to the other areas of my life.
We want to encourage you to make a list of skills you have found to be useful from your job/ business or other forms of making a living. Furthermore, create a list of areas you want to improve on that are not job-specific, i.e. organisation, punctuality, maybe how you make your living has highlighted these for you and you may well find these are seeping into the other areas of your life.
What you do for a living could also be a way for you to fund what you need to do for your purpose. This is good! Having something fund your purpose (should it require it) is great whilst you work towards reaching external financial aid and if you do not enjoy the work you do to earn a living, seeing your labour go to something you love is definitely rewarding.
So we have mentioned the word purpose a few times now… now let’s delve a little deeper.
Looking for Purpose
Are we ready for that conversation?
Or does the word invoke an uncomfortable emotion for you? It’s okay if it does, it did for such a long time for me (Eni) also. During those times, I would just throw the word about anyhow “I just want to know what my purpose is? I feel that until I’m living my purpose I won’t be happy” and I would pray intermittently that God would show me what it was. It genuinely felt like every aspect of my life was in direct correlation to my purpose or lack of it should I say. It felt to me that I wouldn’t feel pure happiness or joy until I had found and was living in my purpose.
We can say this isn’t true, well not entirely. It’s okay to have a process of discovery to your purpose and it is even more okay to enjoy your life in that process.There is no benefit in being miserable whilst you figure out what your purpose is, I would even go so far as to say it’s unhelpful. When you are happy or in a state of contentment, it is easier to think, process, and plan which are all important for using your purpose effectively. So make peace with not knowing; “ignorance is bliss” on this occasion and be patient and kind to yourself as you wait.
So, we imagine you are wondering how to seek your purpose?
It is already in you.
We’re of the belief that your purpose is already in you, you are just yet to tap into it. Every one of us has a purpose and gifts to accompany and materialise this purpose, it may just take some time realising what it is. It could even be that it is something you have been doing, that you don’t feel could even be your purpose; i.e being a good friend, being a good listener, and or being a persuasive and likable speaker.
I was walking home from work the day I acknowledged my purpose, and I remember just feeling the urge to record myself speaking my thoughts – weird right? LOL. Anyway, when I listened to the voice memo I was surprised to hear how assured and confident I was in what I knew I needed to be doing, but even more so in the fact I had been doing it for a long time anyway. It was as clear to me as ever. It was something I had been doing naturally and not giving much thought to, it was the thing that kept niggling in my spirit and remained persistent. It was the thing that even though sometimes I felt reluctant to do the good of it negated my feelings. In summary, my purpose has always urged to burst out. Your purpose will always urge to burst out. For me (Eni), I know I was called to help others – that is my purpose. More specifically through writing (the gift that materialises my purpose).
This may not be everyone’s experience and in no way was this the only day my purpose was confirmed, but it had a huge contribution. Before this day though, I didn’t think I had many ways of finding and discovering this purpose, in hindsight, I wish I had someone simply break it down to me.
With consideration of this, we have put together some practical questions to ask yourself. These could guide your search within yourself to what your purpose may be;
What do I love to do?
What is that thing you use as escapism, what brings you joy and makes you happy as you are doing it?
What difference do I want to see in the world?
When thinking about this life and your society, or even on a smaller scale your community, what change do you think needs to be brought about? What needs to be different where you are?
How can I help someone else?
Please do not be roped into becoming selfish when you discover your purpose, we agree it should make you happy and bring you joy, but remember the true benefit in having a purpose, is someone else benefitting from it.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” – Charles Dickens
Applying Purpose to our Daily Life
Insecurity vs Confidence
In order to get to that place, we want to be and to make that impact we are called to make we need to replace our insecurities with confidence. When we discussed insecurity in the first post we saw how it can have a huge impact on how we see ourselves, how we relate to other people, and even our mental health. None of which will aid us no matter what we feel our life purpose is we need a certain level of self-confidence to achieve it.
Self-confidencea feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment.
How will you start that degree, apply for that position or even quit that job, start that business, accept that speaking engagement, buy that tripod without a feeling of trust for your own abilities, qualities, and judgment? Our call is that it is very difficult and near impossible.
Tips for becoming more self-confident in order to pursue purpose:
Identify your weaknesses – own them and work on them, as we said before… “Knowing your weaknesses can only ever be a good thing, as it shows you your blind spots and knowing these show you where to begin first in your journey of growth.
Educate yourself – You ever been in a meeting and have no idea what’s going on? …Makes you lack the confidence to speak up and get involved in the discussion doesn’t it? Whatever it is you feel your life purpose is, academic or not you are going to need a certain level of knowledge to execute purpose especially if you want to trust yourself and in turn for others to trust you.
Be mindful of what you take in – Do your friends uplift and encourage you? Does your family believe in you? Is anyone around you ambitious / striving for better? Do you spend hours on end watching trash TV? Look at your life and the people and see what ways you can actively take-in more positive messages.
Be a go-getter – Don’t feel like it?… Still do it. As much as we encourage rest and balance to avoid burnouts, truth is our mind and our body won’t always feel like doing the things we need to get done. Having the discipline to get things done regardless will certainly boost your confidence in your judgment and abilities especially when you start seeing results.
Self-criticism Vs Self-compassion
Taking the bold step to pursue purpose or passion is merely the beginning. It’s a journey and there will be roadblocks, renovations, diversions, potholes, missed turns, low petrol, and traffic along the way. But we will never reach our destination if we break down at every challenge. When we are overly self-critical it makes it impossible to move forward and pursue purpose because we have exhausted ourselves with our negative thoughts and words. On this journey to fulfilling purpose it is important to be kind to ourselves along the way even when we miss a turn or two because the road rage only delays us further.
Competition vs Collaboration
“You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it courageously.”― Steve Maraboli
Read it again and again… your greatest SELF. Not Beyonce, not Michelle, not Megan, Not Sarah but the greatest YOU!
We believe we can all be great to someone for something, the problem comes when we apply someone else’s greatness and take it as our own. Have you ever followed a recipe… you swore you followed it step by step and your dish just doesn’t come out quite right? You can have all the recipes in the world but sometimes it means nothing if you don’t have the grace.
We all have something that no one else can do quite like us some of us have found it and some haven’t. Listening to a podcast recently (She’s in a Pod) and the ladies were asked if they ever feel like they lacking creativity / the need to step up their creativity compared to other creatives. One of the ladies gave an answer that really made us think… she simply stated that she may be okay at graphic designing but she recognises that is not her calling so when she wants something done to a certain standard she would pay someone. Everyone might be doing the same thing as you… but what makes you worth the charge? Instead of competing with them… compete with you… how can I make my work even better than it was yesterday. How can I find my niche? How can I become more consistent? In that, you will find that when you are creating/building something great you often need a helping hand. We can’t do everything on our own… so the next person may be really great at something we haven’t quite mastered, but rather than comparing ourselves why don’t we reach out and see if we collaborate to do something great together? Even if the answer is no, it is a better feeling than constantly measuring ourselves against someone else’s ruler.
Tips for being more collaborative in order to purse purpose:
Recognise not everyone is a competitor
Aim to be inspired by others
Work with other people that support your vision
Remember no one does what you do quite like you do
Ask for help/watch those who have accomplished something similar to what you wish to and challenge your inspiration (more on this in last week’s post)
Step into yourSELF
Throughout this series, we have covered various topics that we felt are crucial to address in order to improve our self-development. We have journeyed through insecurities and then combatted these by building a voice of self -compassion, we then placed focus on comparison and competition, making sure we focus on ourselves along the way and finally we stepped into purpose. When we created The SELF Series we had you in mind, it was intended to help you use this time locked down to place attention on the one thing consistent through this continuously changing period. You are the thing that remains even when times start to shift and change and that is why you have to look after you, you have to prioritise looking after your mind and your body and we hope this series has brought about realisation and practical steps in which to do so.
There is truly no role that is ever established or completed without a person and behind a person is individual logic, morality and heart.
Before you are a sister/brother, a wife/husband, a mother/father, a friend or lover you are you. So we urge you to remember this and hope that this series has blessed you a small or large scale.
Your feedback and thoughts have meant so much to us in the past 4 weeks and we do not want that to stop now, so please share your thoughts on the series as a whole or let us know whether there are other topics you want to read from us.
We also understand that in the process of self-development discomfort can arise, and so we want you to know that there are services you can access to support you through this, please see below.
Tami & Eni x
Samaritans; Tel: 116 123
They can also be emailed, in the event, you feel more comfortable doing this.
You can make a referral at your local Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) service. They offer assessments and then go on to offer suitable forms of therapy should you agree with them that you need this support. Therapy types can vary from, Counselling to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (of which there is a vast array of types). Please note these services are still available to access in spite of the current global pandemic.
Please see the link below, offering assistance on how to find your local service;
Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you want to talk more about the topics we have covered. For now, I hope you have been blessed and remember to come back to this as many times as you need to.
So happy you have decided to come on this SELF-journey with us.
In the previous post, we (Tami and Eni) outlined some tell-tale signs you may be battling with one insecurity or another. Although we did give some pointers we would now like to dig a little deeper and really explore how we can get rid of some of these insecurities and move into a healthy state of self-compassion.
Do You Have Self-Compassion?
Before we go any further it may be useful for you to complete the Self-compassion scale to see if you have a healthy amount of self-compassion or not.
When I (Tami) first took this test, I scored a 1.72 which indicates my self-compassion was quite low. Now, what does that look like? It meant I used to beat myself up for months on end for any mistake I would make. In fact, if I forgot to beat myself up I would beat myself up about forgetting to beat myself. I wish I was joking lol. I felt the need to feel guilty because that’s what makes me a good person right? Remorse? haha! More like crucifixion and even Jesus rose after 3 days. My low self-compassion meant that I always felt alone in my problems… everyone in the world is living their absolute best life and I am the only one suffering. Not only does it demonstrate some form of mild narcissism – it’s selfish and demonstrates a lack of compassion for others. Low self-compassion meant I was not allowed to have a bad day, if I did not feel my best in my appearance then I looked like sh*t. My filter was pretty black and white, so no in-between and nothing but the best was satisfactory.
“We need to feel special and above average to feel worthy. Anything less seems like a failure.”
My lack of self-compassion meant than any “shortcoming” in relation to life, career, relationships, finances were my fault ultimately because I had made some bad decision somewhere down the line.
Having self-compassion does not actually negate us being wrong or making mistakes – but how do we treat/speak to ourselves after making a mistake or feeling like we are not perfect?
So, What is Self-Compassion?
“Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. Think about what the experience of compassion feels like. First, to have compassion for others you must notice that they are suffering. Second, compassion involves feeling moved by others’ suffering so that your heart responds to their pain (the word compassion literally means to “suffer with”). When this occurs, you feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Having compassion also means that you offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly. Finally, when you feel compassion for another (rather than mere pity), it means that you realize that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience.
Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself.Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?”
– Kristin Neff
I am Better Than You
If we are lacking self-compassion how could we possibly feel better than others? Well, that’s sometimes the method of making ourselves feel better.
“People compare themselves to those who are better when they want inspiration to improve, and compare themselves to those who are worse when they want to feel better about themselves.”
Modern society can be described as individualistic and self-promotion is common. All you need to do is scroll on Twitter for 60 seconds and you would have encountered a “drag” a “cancel” and a “brag”.
In fact, what some of us may describe a “brag” or even a “humblebrag” is actually Downward Social Comparison; which simply means “we paint others in a negative light so we can feel superior by contrast”… “enjoy the hood”. I am reading Kristin Neff’s book “Self-Compassion” (Recommended read) and she compares Downward Social Comparison to the “burn book” in Mean Girls. The “it” girls kept this book with embarrassing facts or rumors about others as a way to feel superior. While most of us (I hope) won’t go to the lengths of keeping a burn book, we often look for and point out shortcomings/flaws in others as a way to feel better about ourselves. When it’s put like that it seems real ugly and our first reaction is to deny, deny deny.
But it’s common, usually subconscious but the good news is that it is a behavior we can unlearn.
In no way is downward comparison a sufficient or healthy replacement of self-compassion. When we have an adequate amount of self-compassion we don’t feel the need to make ourselves feel better by effectively turning down another.
“The art of being yourself at your best is the art of unfolding your personality into the person you want to be…Be gentle with yourself, learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself, for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others.” – Wilferd A. Peterson
Applying Self-compassion: A Word with Your Bestie
Imagine your closest friend has come to you with an issue – maybe he/she failed an exam, got fired from his/her job, missed an application deadline, did not get into their university of choice, realised they hate something about their physical appearance, got dumped by their partner, failed their saving goal… whatever.
Now imagine you responding with something along the lines of, “You are such a failure, you mess everything up, you are ugly and unworthy, you should be upset for a really long time because you really messed up. No one else ever messes up this bad, or has a life as bad as yours”.
How much of a terrible person, let alone friend could you be right? You would NEVER, right? Your response would probably be more along the lines of “I understand this is a really difficult time for you right now, but you will get through this. This does not define you, you will move on to bigger and better. We all make mistakes from time to time, you are not alone. You will get other opportunities, what is for you will be for you. Remember everything happens for a reason. I wish you saw what I saw in you, you are so beautiful inside and out”.
So how do you respond to your own life’s “shortcomings” the former or the latter? If it is not the latter, I suggest you change that… for many reasons.
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it’s incomplete” – Jack Kornfeild
You need to be your first love; you can’t keep pouring from an empty cup.The same way your best friend is a valued human, though imperfect, still deserving of love, happiness, and success, so are you!
Some important questions to really ask yourself:
How do you generally react to yourself and your life?
How do you typically react to events in your life especially difficult ones?
Do you show the same compassion to yourself as you would others?
Ultimately, the message we want to pass on is that we understand, we have compassion for you in everything you go through. But have you ever had someone give you a compliment you don’t agree with… goes in one ear and out the other? But have you had those days you know you looked GOODT… you receive compliments with so much love and no one can tell you otherwise? You feel good so you spend time more time admiring yourself in the mirror than comparing. Well, that’s how we believe self-compassion should work; when you are compassionate towards yourself you are less closed off and isolated, you are able to properly receive the love and compassion from others and not easily phased by the negative opinions of others. You feel confident in yourself and your abilities and see no desire to compare yourself to the next person.
Techniques to imoprove self-compassion:
Positive affirmations/ manifestation
Exercise / healthy eating
We all have difficulties in our lives at one point or another. We all face one insecurity too. Sometimes these battles are physical and other times it is mental. The passage to self-compassion is just facing these difficulties with a friend, and that friend is you first and foremost. You can see yourself as worthy of all the good things life has to offer whilst also aiming to improve on the areas of yourself and your life you know need work. So, turn down the volume of ‘Negative Nancy’ over your shoulders and turn up the voice of your new best friend… you.
Despite the current global state of affairs, we hope you are well. What a time to be alive…
A lot of us are stuck indoors with not much to do during this time. We want to encourage you to try and find the silver lining in every day, stay as active as possible and stay connected with your loved ones.
With all the time we now have, it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of doing everything for others, picking up the never-ending to-do list you had made whilst you had a commute to work, or even just find yourself binge-watching Netflix (but that ain’t no problem).
But we would love to add that we think it’s important to use the more time you have to yourself wisely. Now it’s not our thing to say – learn about investments, stock, trading getting an online degree, although if these are things you want to do, by all means, do so.
Howeveverrrrr, what we will say is with all this time to yourselves, it’s the perfect time to do the inside work. To really take a look at your inner thoughts and feelings and see how you are really doing, not just what you are selling to everyone else.
We really believe each and every one of us should have a healthy amount of self-compassion.
Self-compassion is the extension of kindness, care, warmth, and understanding (instead of beratement and criticism) towards oneself when faced with shortcomings, inadequacies, or failures.
Many people can extend compassion toward others but find it difficult to extend the same compassion toward themselves, so we thought we’d start a mini-series helping you find a way to love and admire yourself first, in the same way, you love and admire others. The first way to do that is to analyse where you are. Knowing your weaknesses can only ever be a good thing, as it shows you your blind spots and knowing these show you where to begin first in your journey of growth.
Below we have touched on some tell-tale signs that show you may be dealing with insecurities…
Trouble looking at yourself / Not wanting to take pictures
You may find looking in the mirror is difficult, especially in your natural state. Looking at your pictures or attempting to take pictures brings about discomfort and you may result in avoidance in an attempt to not have to experience those feelings.
It’s crucial to remember that you are formed of so much more than your physical, in the words of Emma Watson “feeling beautiful is nothing to do with what you look like”. The problem is not with your body, the problem is what you think of it and how you think of yourself.
Social Anxiety / Not wanting to be seen
Some of you have been on lockdown and social distancing way before the pandemic. This one is not just for the introverts, extroverts too… liking your own company is not a bad thing in fact it is the very thing we want to encourage with this series. However, avoiding being around people for a fear of the unknown relates to a deeper problem. If you are struggling with social anxiety you may find it difficult to socialize, make eye contact and form new relationships. You may be overly self-conscious about the way people perceive you or what they think of your looks/ personality. So you would rather not be seen. In this current day and age, it may not always be physical socialising, it may manifest in ways like having a low social media presence / or just avoiding posting any pictures of yourself because you fear being seen and therefore judged.
What many of us fail to remember is that the people we converse with, the people at the party, the people on the train, and the people you on Instagram that just posted 10 pictures today are probably thinking about themselves just as much as we are and often don’t even care to notice the things we so desperately want to hide.
Comparing yourself negatively
Comparison can be detrimental in many ways, especially because we usually compare ourselves negatively and perceive the other person as better in one way or another. In other words, in a room filled with others, you are keeping score.
The saying “Comparison is the thief of joy” isn’t just a renowned saying by chance, think deeply about this and consider what you may be stealing from yourself.
“Comparison is an act of violence against the self.” – Iyanla Vanzant
Your internal voice is negative
Your internal voice is essentially your thoughts. They are often negative. You are often critical of yourself and never really give yourself any praise or when you do acknowledge your achievements you discount them by offering an additional external reason as to why it came about. Your internal voice always feeds you with a narrative that you are “not good enough”; “not worthy” or “undeserving” – this shows up in various areas of your life.
Censoring and invalidating yourself is common here when your internal voice is critical, you limit yourself and your capabilities. A tree never grew large by having a tiny planter, give yourself room to spread out and grow, this starts by not limiting yourself and feeding yourself with positive thoughts.
This could relate to any area of your life especially those that require you to build and maintain relationships. Because of your insecurities, you tend to push people away, overthink things, lack trust and find a flaw in everything, you undo your good because you are fearful of experiencing the disappointment you expect.
“Don’t let insecure thoughts ruin something amazing.” – Unknown
You lack trust / You need a lot of reassurance
As mentioned because of your lack of belief in yourself you tend not to trust others. Especially those kindest to you and showing you the most love (it’s to do with feeling undeserving, consequently making you skeptical). Because your first love should always be yourself, it can feel unfamiliar and dishonest when someone claims to love the things about yourself you are accustomed to taking for granted. Often this disbelief means a person needs to reassure they still hold these feelings more often than not, as you equate silence to the feelings no longer existing EVEN IF they are expressing love in other non-verbal ways. Whew.
Verbal reassurance holds a lot of weight in these situations, but essentially this is unsustainable. Complacency and comfort occur in all areas of life and as much as it would be lovely to have a cheerleader on our shoulders at all times, it’s not possible. So if you are dealing with insecurity in this way, before your confidence wanes, switch your method and make your voice of reassurance the loudest– stay with us, more to come on how to do this throughout the series!
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – Wayne Dyer
You have unhealthy forms of “escape”/ You always need an escape
From drugs to alcohol, to excessive sleep and bad relationships. You may find that being alone with yourself is too much and so you constantly distract yourself with the examples we mentioned, or you keep yourself occupied by constantly being on the phone or out and about with others.
The sheer idea of being left to just you has you believing you wouldn’t cope or you don’t want to deal with what you may think about.
You are sensitive/defensive which can lead to projection
You often take a lot personally and to heart. Even when the perceived negativity is not directed at you you often feel that it is. Psychological projection can occur as a result of this, this is a defense mechanism that makes you attribute undesirable feelings unto other people, as opposed to admitting or handling the unwanted emotions by yourself.
First-step, face the issue head-on. Approach with understanding and compassion towards yourself and the other. Think of the facts and do not become defensive.
You often feel anxious
You often feel a fear of the unknown. You often have this overwhelming feeling that something bad is going to happen or is happening. You often feel like your goals and aspirations for the future are farfetched and unobtainable.
You often feel jealous
Jealousy “Feeling or showing an envious resentment of someone or their achievements, possessions, or perceived advantages.”
Whew. I know no one likes to talk about this because frankly, jealousy is UGLY. But jealously does NOT make you evil or a witch and it’s not an incurable disease. When you feel a lot of the feelings above – being that you do not look at yourself or your achievements positively and you often compare yourselves to others. It is actually a very fast and slippery slope to feelings like jealousy.
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not”. – Ann Brashares
Overcompensation becomes second nature
Because of your internal voice telling you, “you’re not good enough” or you don’t deserve to be here when you find yourself in situations where you feel underserving you take extra measures to prove your worthiness. This can also occur in relationships/ interactions, where you find yourself doing more to satisfy the other.
You have difficulties enforcing non-negotiables
You may find that your boundaries are not fixed and so you are easily swayed and/or often overstep your own boundaries. Or worse, other people overstep your boundaries. Some things in this life shouldn’t be negotiated, especially those that are put in place to protect you, by you. Respect the importance of your boundaries and do not trade these for nothing.
Now have a real one on one talk with yourself. Which applies to me? If only one applies to you, you are still facing some sort of insecurity. The next couple of posts will focus on how we can move away from these negative thoughts about ourselves and really move into a state of self-love, confidence and self-compassion.
“Sometimes the hardest battle is against yourself. But believe in yourself, you can win.” – Unknown
“One of the greatest journeys in life is overcoming insecurity and learning to truly not give a shit.”
– J. A. Konrath
Till next week Friday & Lots of Love,
Eni & Tami x
Check out Eni’s page on Instagram @HerWordsTheirMinds.
Hey! My name is Oyin, I am 26 years young and I genuinely love deep and meaningful conversations. My friends would describe me as passionate, thoughtful and extremely impulsive (though that’s changing this 2020!)
Tell us about a challenging time in your life…
If I could choose a challenging time in my life, hands down the award would go to years 2017-2018; my life (in every area) came crashing! So, to give bit of context, in 2016 I graduated from University. Life was seemingly happy – girl goes to Uni, gets a 2.1, gets the grad job of her dreams and makes her parents proud. What could go wrong? I mean everything seem to be working perfectly, I was making good money, someone’s son was making me happy (for the most part ha) and my skin was glowing. Things were genuinely making sense as they had been for the past 22 years. But then (and I don’t know why) I began feeling anxious. Anxious about everything but mainly about work. ‘You got this job by accident’ and ‘You’re not good enough’ were anthems on shuffle in my head. These words started getting to my head so much that I remember working from home for 4 weeks straight just because I wasn’t prepared to face any of my colleagues. This feeling was new to me, I was confused as to what was happening. Was I experiencing the preliminary stages of depression or was I just lazy? Was it just a bad day? A low mood? Can prayer fix it? and if I share will I be paraded with a bunch of “aww’s”, “sorry’s” and ‘I didn’t know you were going through that’ These were questions I didn’t have the answer to so I pretended it didn’t exist for a while.
So anyway, I quit my ‘good’ job as I thought it was the problem and trusted God to come through. I had no clue I was in for a journey of patience and resilience. For 7 excruciating months I was unemployed and although my savings were going down by the day, I continued to live a life as though I was employed 😂 I went to interview after interview but would always get turned down after the 2nd or 3rd stage. All in all I think I went to about 18 interviews only to be told that I was unsuccessful. Then one month, I received the news I had been waiting for- a company wanted to employ ME! So, of course I grabbed the offer with both hands, I was sure this was my big break. Boy was I wrong lol. Due to the fact that I was still in a terrible place mentally that job lasted for 4 months and there I was back to square one, unemployed again for a further 6 months.
Other areas contributed to the dark space I was in. In fact, I had no emotional stability which was affecting my romantic relationships. I kept leaving and re-entering toxic spaces that weren’t good for me mentally, but it was all I knew and therefore all I kept finding myself in. And as for spiritually? Don’t get me started on where I was with God. I left my Church for about 3 months and questioned nearly everything I believed to be true. I had no clue who I was anymore.
It hurt more because my elder sisters were great role models, they were married, had good jobs and had two kids each. I couldn’t understand why I, being the last girl was so different to them. Why I couldn’t keep a job? Why I was in situationship after situationship and why my relationship with God was on the rocks. It was no surprise that I thought my life was going to be an endless cycle of short-term jobs and failed relationships.
How did this affect you or make you feel?
My depression hit me bad. Many days I spent hours fantasying about being hurt, injured and dying altogether. It got so bad that I began envying people that would have the balls to hurt themselves, like why couldn’t I run in front of a car? Why couldn’t I overdose? And if I couldn’t, was I really depressed. I began telling myself that I wasn’t that depressed, I mean after all I wasn’t self-harming nor was I actively seeking therapy. I didn’t seem to have the qualifications for REAL depression in my eyes and the mismatch between what I was feeling and what I knew to be depression gnawed at me daily.
Coupled with the unpleasant thoughts, I stayed in my room A LOT and being so susceptible to my emotions, my room was the only safe place for the state I was in. I couldn’t afford to accidentally cry when I was watching TV with my mum or dad so I tried to avoid both parents at all costs. In fact, texting my parents who were just downstairs to confirm ‘I had already eaten’ was the norm for me. I had no energy to do anything- my room would be a mess for days on end and I’d sleep with clothes on my bed, books, my laptop- anything. My room was a complete reflection of my mind- cluttered, hazardous and in desperate need of a tidy up.
And although I’m not really a foodie in general nothing could prepare me for the lack of appetite I had over this period. I hardly ate and dropped two dress sizes. People noticed and kept asking ‘Oyin, how did you do it’ as if I had been on some amazingly life changing diet and I had to brush it off with ‘I don’t know’ when I fully well knew I weren’t eating.
I think the worst effect of all is that I actively self-sabotaged every potential relationship that came my way. There would be times I believed I was happy enough to date, so I would. I’d get to know someone, like them but when it started becoming real and by real, I mean they had a duty to check in on how my job search was going, I’d literally want to terminate the conversation. At the time, my emotions were all over the place and the last thing I wanted to do was talk about being unemployed for more than 20 seconds. But of course, due to the caring nature of who I was talking to, they would probe and press to see how my mental state was. Looking back I can see why any loved one would do this but the truth is, it really just made me feel embarrassed and powerless. So, as a result, every talking stage ended in ‘I don’t think I can do this right now’
Are you in a better space now? How did you overcome this?
A much better space. I am at PEACE.
If I’m to be honest, I think it all happened so fast that I’d be lying if I said I knew the day things got better. However, I do remember having a deep conversation with my Pastor in which I just cried. Literally there were no words just tears (he must have thought I was mad lol) but he literally encouraged me that all would be well. That week I must have had extra faith boy because I went from having 0 offers to 3 offers and even one from a job that had previously turned me down. I’ll spare you the details but the takeaway from here is that I knew that my story was about to change because my job breakthrough came with such heavy vengeance.
I had seen the results of faith so this allowed me to further trust in God even though areas in my life still needed improvement. I went back to my church, I got involved in serving and committed to coming every week despite how I felt. Low moods became manageable because I realised, I had power over it and it didn’t have power over me. Having a job gave me an in-explainable confidence boost because I was interacting with people for 7-8 hours a day again and not to mention how the pay rise made me feel lol.
My family and friends played a HUGE part in my growth too because they constantly encouraged me, were patient with me even when I was unresponsive or snappy. They took time to educate themselves on what was going on with me and I can honestly say every single person in my life was helpful in their own little way.
What good came from your challenging period?
Now, I can honestly say I am genuinely happy with where I am in life, I mean I have my ups and downs as any human would but I’m honestly in a great place. I’m in a better space with God, love my job and I’m in the process of healing from emotional scars. That’s a sentence I thought would never come out of my mouth!
Upon reflection, I learnt that I had to be patient with myself and let God do his work in me (Read Philippians 1:6). I didn’t create myself so I was sure he had the manual for ‘fixing’ me. As unsettling as it sounded, my job was just to be STILL. I didn’t need to force conversations about my situation or update people on how I was feeling because that wasn’t therapeutic to me – and that was OK.
A big one for me was I had to unlearn my impulsive nature. I verbally told myself “you can’t just quit a job because you aren’t feeling it Oyin”. I pushed myself to ‘dig deeper, what don’t you like? What can be done to improve how you feel?’ Because in life, you’re gonna face trials and sometimes it be your own personality type preventing you from overcoming.
All in all, I learnt that with depression, the help you receive is so dependent on how well you can communicate your pain but many people (including myself) do not understand their pain let alone know how to articulate what they’re feeling to someone else. They just know it’s heavy, it’s real and can’t seem to get out of it. So I put together some bullet points for anyone going through a hard time below.
What advice would you give to someone currently going through a difficult time?
Tell your loved ones to be present but not intrusive
Write down things you’re grateful for and make it visible
Don’t force yourself to be happy (You’ll be frustrated at yourself)
Take a social media break for at least 28 days (Too much of social media when you’re depressed is unbelievably damaging)
Most importantly PRAY (I can’t stress how much this changed my life- God hears and cares)
Remember: what you’re feeling has an expiry date
Any last words?
Confession: I took a while to write this because writing in the past has never been therapeutic to me. I used to hate writing and cried as I did it because it reminded me that my pain is real and isn’t just some thoughts I’ve put together. It’s a compilation of my realities and the experiences concerning the not so nice things life has thrown at me; ones I’d rather forget. I also felt at one point in my life that writing made me feel like a baby, a baby for even feeling the way I do, a baby for complaining and a baby for needing help. But writing this has honestly stirred up a well of gratitude in me, I have been able to reflect on my journey through this one piece and hopefully I have given hope to those who are on theirs. It gets better – I promise you.
Hope is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen” or “a feeling of trust“. Most of us with ambition, goals, and dreams have some element of hope. Some would argue that hope and/or faith is what gets us through our day to day lives.
To live without Hope is to Cease to live. –Fyodor Dostoevsky
Yet with all the hopes, we seem to have that tomorrow is better why do so many of us so often struggle with hopelessness?
Hopelessness – a feeling or state of despair; lack of hope.
We are walking contradictions! But I think I may have found out one of the reasons this is and how to make sure we live more with hope rather than hopelessness.
The definition of hope I provided above simply outlines that we have desires and expectations. This is completely fine because we should have aspirations and goals and equally, we should plan and take steps to achieve our goals and aspirations. Now, this is where it gets a little tricky. Often because we have made plans our “expectation” is that things will go exactly as planned, despite us having the knowledge life has a way of throwing curveballs, and sometimes just straight kicks in the gut.
I am saying all of this because… as we come to the end of the year and some will even argue a decade it’s easy for us to fall into the trap of focusing only on the hopes we have for the coming year/decade, in this neglecting our character. Some of you may have a perfect year next year, but for the other 99.99% of us, things will not always be perfect. Does that mean we should not hope to avoid disappointment? No, of course not.
However, I want to encourage us to remember resilience in all things we hope and plan for.
Resiliance – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
And maybe it’s just me, but I am guilty of starting the new year on such a high full of hope and then as soon as life throws an inconvenience at me I become “hopeless”. When we are in a state of hopelessness we waste so much time and get so much more off-track than what the initial inconvenience could have caused. If you are like me… you will eventually come around and get back on track but unfortunately, we can’t get all the time we have wasted back. This is why I particularly like the definition of resilience provided above, because it is not just about the recovery it is the speed of the recovery that qualifies you as resilient and or tough.
I hopeyou have an amazing 2020, but more than anything I hope we can all develop resilience, and ditch hopelessness. I hope we stay grounded and focused on our hopes, dreams, and plans – understanding that this is not with the absence of life’s “distractions”, so that we may hope for the sunshine in the midst of the storm.
Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off – Proverbs 23:18
For those of us that have struggled with one insecurity or another, we will be all too familiar with this one right here. “I’m not smart enough” “I’m will never lose this weight” “I am the ugly friend” “I will never get promoted”. Negative self-talk is just evidence of fear. It’s the easy route to believe the negative, that way you never get disappointed right? Actually, it means we set ourselves up for a life we don’t really want.. how about we believe good things about ourselves and say those things instead of the negative? Bye bye to jatti jatti!
Speaking of fear… not only does it create a space for negative self-talk, but it also creates a space that leaves us stagnant. The “what ifs” in our lives are always negative, but how liberating would it be if the “what ifs” became positives. “What if my business thrives” “what if my event sells out” “What if I get a new job” “What if I nail that exam”.
I would say I am someone with quite a bit of pride. It’s taking me a while to admit that I guess because of my… yup you guessed it. But when it comes to the relationships you have with your loved ones there is no room for it. Fall out’s will happen… but I am determined next year to try and put my pride aside as much as I can and resolve issues through effective communication.
4. Camera Shyness
I have said this one the last couple of years, but in 2020 I am dedicated to sticking to my word. I am expectant to make so many beautiful memories with my loved ones and wouldn’t it be great if I could actually have pictures to look back on? And I…
5. Balding Edges
I never thought I would be one of those people with hair issues especially in relation to my edges. My forehead was always known for being small because my hairline was so far forward … now with constant wigs, slicked edges and got2be glue… my edges are vanishing and my forehead is growing. So I am promising myself in 2020 to not take my hair for granted, and make more of an active effort in taking care of my natural hair.
This one could literally relate to anything but the three main inconsistencies I would like to put a focus on in 2020 is God, Blogging / Tears to Laughter and Gym. The thought of the outcome of staying consistent in these three things really excites me! What in your life with a little more consistency could be so amazing?
7. Stale Friendships
I don’t mean to be bad vibes with this one, I am definitely not one of those cut people off for the new year sorta people. However, I think it’s important to know who are your REAL friends.. not the people you were close to a couple years ago, not the people you have known the longest but the people who truly value you and vice versa. For me nothing dramatic needs to happen, it’s just about knowing at the back of my mind who those people are that I would go above and beyond for.
For me this is just about adding an extra 30 mins to my get-ready time… because more often than not something seems to go wrong and I end up leaving later than planned. And if by some miracle I get ready with extra time… Picture time! Hello punctuality!
“It’s much more fun to be full of hope than pessimism any day of the week” – Lemmy
That’s it. That’s the bullet point.
For me this is anything from… being on time to things like doing my meal prep for the week. It all boils down to disorganisation. To-do lists will be my friend in 2020.
12. Poor Money Management
I never thought I would say this… but… not every event needs a new outfit. Yes, I said it. I have found that when I buy things impulsively for a particular event I tend not to get much wear of it later. So taking my time to shop for things I like with a budget rather than ordering clothes every other week. Again, there are so many things poor money management could relate to… so I will try my best with those too.
It gets so easy to blame everything on external factors, but I have learned in 2019 we have way more control than we think! It’s just about being determined to get up and make those moves.
I like to think of myself as a thoughtful person, however sometimes when life is being.. well life… it’s easy to get caught up in your own little bubble. This year I have forgotten a few birthdays and felt really crap about it. 2020, I will aim to stay on top of things by writing things down and setting reminders.
“If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”― Ecclesiastes 11:4
“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.” – Amy Collette
If you have ever been to a restaurant with me or even just Tesco, you’ll know the vibes. Because I am such a perfectionist it means I struggle to make decisions a lot because I am always scared to make the wrong one. I have learned that indecisiveness is just the cousin of procrastination and fear. So in 2020, I am going to be confident and concise in my decision making.
18. Irresponsibility / Carelessness
I can’t even count the number of times I have lost my bank card this year. I have lost my driving license, my keys… you name it. I think at 24 there is no excuse to misplace things so often. So in 2020, I want to prove to myself that I can be a responsible adult by being more careful and cautious.
The new age of media / social media makes this one very difficult. But there is so much peace found in being grateful for WHO you are and WHERE you are. Comparison only robs us of peace and not in a way that’s productive at all. So try appreciating someone else’s looks or achievements, WITHOUT diminishing your own.
I never thought I would be glad to be writing a post about Therapy, but you know what that shows… growth! Earlier this year I got the point where I just had enough of feeling sorry myself, being overwhelmed with anxiety, and simply just not recognising myself. I had gotten to a place where I had so many insecurities that a simple journey to and from work would have my heart racing, comparing myself to every single woman I walked past, how draining.
Growing up like any other human being I had my challenges and insecurities, but through it, I was always bubbly, full of life and ALWAYS laughing. How I began to feel about myself in more recent years meant that I was deprived of simple moments I could just be happy in. I always knew self-love was valuable but this year I realised, it is CRUCIAL to love yourself in order to navigate life. It impacts your relationships, your career, your development, your social life, and skills… anything you can think of really. Through it all, it’s important you get to the place where you decide ENOUGH is ENOUGH. For me, that was when I decided to gift myself the greatest act of self-love. I simply decided I was going to stop crying (it’s okay to cry) and start trying.
Enough is enough but what next? I knew I needed to express how I was feeling and as much as I believe those around me love and care for me, people go through their own things and it was not their burden to carry. I needed to dig deep and really uproot these insecurities. So as a Christian one of the things that was weighing on me was the lack of relationship with God, so I felt I needed a shift. I decided I was going to move church… but as a “Pastor’s Child” that was a whole battle on its own and a whole other blog post too. Anyway, I began searching for a new church.
I knew God would guide me but I also knew I needed professional help. I had tried to get help through the NHS a few months back and had heard nothing and as much as I did not have the spare cash lying around I decided to go private. I began doing research on the type of therapy I thought would be best for me. I opted for a form of Psychotherapy called humanistic therapies – which encourages you to think about yourself more positively and aim to improve your self-awareness, whilst also being able to explore the triggers of the negative thinking. I used counselling-directory.org.uk to find a therapist that would be close to home. I knew I really wanted to speak to a black woman specifically, as I suspected they would better be able to understand myself and my life experiences.
I knew that in the hope of finding a church that fulfilled my needs and finding a good therapist, I would still need to do my own work from deep inside. So this was little things from, taking social media breaks, reading articles and blog posts online that would encourage me and teach new things about dealing with and changing how I was feeling.
After loads of trial and error and making an agreement with my parents to attend their church once a month, I have found a church that really makes me excited to go there and less than a 15-minute drive away from my house. One of the things I really wanted was a sense of community and even though I still don’t talk to many people at the church I feel a sense of belonging and focus. There is no familiarity, so when I go to church it’s just me and God and I can really go there to just have that me and God time. I have learned so much and I am excited about what is to come.
I found a therapist who was based less than a 10-minute walk away from my house. And guess what? A black woman! I remember going to my first session not knowing what to expect but determined not to cry. When she began asking me simple questions I welled up very quickly and began to cry. I knew this exactly what I needed. I needed to let all those tears out because it had been clogging my system for so long. I was in therapy for just under 5 months, after that first session I probably only cried in one other session. Sometimes I even questioned if it was working because there were still low lows while I was in therapy but something that remained consistent in the articles I was reading is that this is a journey and things can get better it’s just going to need a lot of being intentional. So when I would feel thoughts creeping up that would take me in the wrong direction, I would remind myself of something encouraging my therapist had said, slowly this began to transition into my own voice as I finally started believing good things about myself. Through my time in therapy my faith came up and I noticed my therapist would sometimes even quote me scriptures. Wow… she was a Christian too. It probably was not “best practice” for her to show me that but boy did this help. I knew I wanted someone who understood my struggles and she REALLY DID, and for that reason, she was able to ask me the RIGHT questions and say the right things. I did not always feel like spewing my guts so she was able to use a range of methods with me, we did exercises, used cards, imagery… you name it. Sometimes it felt silly at first but I always left with a spring in my step giving me that glimpse of self-belief that I so desperately needed.
During all of this, I was doing a lot of me work. I was trying to remove things from my life that impacted me negatively. A social media detox here and there was so crucial. As much I believe social media is not a “bad” thing, I think when you are in a certain headspace it certainly is more likely to have a negative impact on your mental health than a positive one, so why take the risk? So what do you do with all your spare time? READ READ READ. I read so many articles on self-esteem, self-talk, personality types, and anxiety, believe it or not, it’s some really interesting stuff. Not only did it remove the feeling of loneliness knowing I was not the only one experiencing these things, but it also gave me a sense of hope; Reading stories of people who have felt exactly how I have felt and now can truly love themselves. I learned so many little skills and tools that I use subconsciously in my everyday life that have made such a huge impact.
You Can Do It Too
I am a long way off from perfect but I am sooooo overwhelmed with joy to say I am better. I am bubbly again and I laugh more often. I mean, I still cringe at pictures of myself but at least I am even taking them. I have made leaps of progress and if no one even notices, my spirt does. I don’t feel so heavy any more, I don’t feel unstable, I don’t feel like at any given moment I can burst into tears. A lot of people including myself feel like these changes happen when… you lose all the weight, you get that big pay rise and promotion, you get that relationship, you get recognition. Fact is not much changed in my “outside life” yet I wake up so much happier. Your “inside life” is so much more important, and trust me, it impacts the way good things are drawn to you in your outside life. That confidence means, I enjoy the gym more now rather than just seeing it as torture, I perform better and have better relationships at work, my romantic relationship is no longer anxiety-inducing and I just live more in the present moment.
If you are facing anything similar, you can do it too. Start the work today.
“If you are not happy with something, you should change it. So I went to a lot of therapy, and finally, I am able to speak up for myself…” – Katy Perry
“Learning how to love myself and my body is a lifelong process. But I definitely don’t struggle the way I used to. Therapy helped me realisethat maybe it’s okay for me to communicate my feelings. Instead of literally stuffing them down with food, maybe it’s okay for me to express myself.” – Kerry Washington
My name is Renee-Louise and I’m a 23-year-old Economics graduate and serial traveler! My friends would describe me as a brave, adventurous and definitely spontaneous.
While I was at University, I went through some character-building and life-changing experiences. The biggest change that happened and potentially knocked me while at University was my parents splitting up. I never saw the day coming as they had been married for 21 years. Besides, that was all I knew (them being together). Being young and naive I obviously took my mum’s side and got way more involved in my parents’ relationship than I should’ve done.
This became a major distraction and had a knock-on effect on my degree. I felt so overwhelmed at the time since I was consumed with negative emotions that I ended up failing a module and taking an involuntary gap year. At my University, you are not allowed to progress to the next stage unless you pass ALL modules, so I took it on the chin and turned lemons into lemonade.
Within the next week of learning that I would not be progressing to my 3rd year, I landed a job. This was a sales role that I found online with attractive pay. I mean, I’d never done sales before but since I like trying new things I thought, ‘why not?’. Initially, I was only supposed to stay at the job temporarily until I found something in my field that would at the very least contribute to my experience later down the line. However, once I got going in this job, I quickly became one of the top saleswomen and ended up staying there for the majority of my gap year. At one point I was earning more than my own mum and she’s a dentist, so you do the math!
At the time, I was so comfortable in this job and the money, that I even started having thoughts of just doing this sales thing full time and quitting University altogether. However, God had other plans.
After being at the company for about 9 months, sales started to take over my entire life since the job was very demanding. It was so bad that I even forgot about my own personal business that I had at the time and even ended up missing my retake exam because I was so consumed in making money and traveling.
Once I realised that I had missed my exam, I was actually petrified. I thought ‘RIGHT, that’s it I’m getting chucked out, they’ve had it!’. All of a sudden, when my University degree was almost ripped away from me I wanted it more than ever and I was willing to do whatever it took to get it.
I frantically enquired with my University about whether there was another opportunity to resit before September started and thank Jesus there was. At this point, I knew something had to change. Despite the good money I was making from being a sales consultant, I decided to step down from this demanding role so that I could focus on my exam. I moved to another role within the company I was at. This role was far less demanding and target driven so I was able to focus on studying for my exam more.
After a while of being in this role, It was made clear to me that I wasn’t that valuable to the company anymore, so when things started getting a little tight for them financially, they had no problem letting me go. Of course, I was distraught by this because that was my main source if the income at the time. However, again I turned lemons into lemonade and used those months of being unemployed to travel some more and focus on my upcoming exam.
Soon after being laid off, I visited Doha in June 2018 for a solo trip and then went on a family cruise in August 2018. The day before my family cruise was the day of my final chance to retake the exam that I had missed. So, my nerves were all over the place. It wasn’t long before I got back my results and had secured my place I third year again. I had a major sigh of relief because I’d never felt so close to losing my degree before. It was definitely the wake-up call that I needed to value my degree again and regain focus.
When I rejoined University in September, I knew it was time to SMASH it. I wanted to finish with a 2:1 at the very least and to do this, I had to put in serious work because I ended up with a 2:2 in my second year due to just not caring anymore about my degree.
For 9 months, I had to suspend all travel plans, put my head down and actually WORK. I also got closer to God at the start of the academic year which really really helped to give me the drive and determination I needed to take me to the finish line. My third year is when I truly saw what God was capable of doing. He gave me a forgiving heart and I was able to move past my ill-feelings towards my dad and he even rewarded me with first-class grades across the board which helped to drag my grade all the way up to the 2:1 that I’m so grateful to have achieved.
If there’s any advice I’d give to anyone reading this or been in the same predicament as me it’s this:
Never take an L as a loss but as a lesson
Talk to people on your travels. You have no idea what you could learn
Turn lemons into lemonade always. Looking at the brighter side of things always leads to better outcomes!
Try new things that are out of your comfort zone, because you have no idea what could be waiting for you outside that zone
Don’t get involved in anyone else’s dramas while at University. FOCUS It’s only 3 years and anyone that loves you will understand that.
Travel at any chance you get!
Take everything one step at a time while at University. There’s plenty of time to live out your dreams the way you REALLY want to when you’re done!
ALWAYS have faith that God knows what he’s doing, even if it doesn’t feel like it. (He wants and knows what is best for us)
I’ve now graduated and living out my dreams of being a travel content creator and it feels great! In fact, as I write this I’m currently on a plane on my way to Nigeria to see my dad and make up for the lost time. So, head over to my blog and follow my journey where I post daily travel, lifestyle and news content.
There is a popular principle that originated from a Bible Verse – “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31. Simply stating that you should treat others how you would like to be treated by them, under the assumption that people like to be treated well by others. I very much agree with this principle, however, I have been thinking lately that we can expand on this and apply it to ourselves. How about we also treat ourselves how we would treat others? Or we treat ourselves the way we would like others to treat us?
Despite my frequent raised eyebrow at the existence of humanity, I think it is safe to say the majority of people still desire to treat others with human decency. With that comes an element of consciousness with what we say to others. In-fact when people fail to adhere to these standards they are often labeled negatively, for example – a bully. I would like to assume most of us were raised with a sense of emotional intelligence in that we should aim not to upset people with our words. The notion of “Constructive Criticism” was introduced to prevent negative feelings or emotions even when what we want to say is not particularly “nice” in other words being able to point out where someone may have gone wrong politely, and potentially outlining how they could do better going forward. Great right? Polite honesty without sugar-coating or rudeness, brilliant. And it works! When this is applied right especially in places like the workplace it saves a lot of negative emotions and conflict.
So my question is, why are so many of us just straight up critical towards ourselves, not constructive at all, just critical? For others we can apply emotional intelligence and think about how our words may affect them but for we say the nastiest things towards ourselves.
I am fat.
I am ugly.
I am too skinny.
I am not smart.
I have no talent.
I am not loveable.
I am not good at my job.
You are a bully! A bully to your very own self. For any of you who may have unfortunately been bullied, you will know that words said to you can really follow you for a long time, make you doubt yourself, and really hurt your feelings. We want others to have the decency not to bully us but we lose so much power by bullying ourselves. When you say nasty things about yourself it is not productive, it’s harmful.
Constructive Criticism: Application
As human beings, we are all “imperfect” in one way or another and for that reason, it is important to be reflective and see how we can improve on things. With that being said, whenever you notice something you think you can improve on rather than beating yourself up with your negative words and thoughts… stop! Think! How would I communicate this to someone else avoiding hurting their feelings? …Then say it to yourself that way.
A way to combat bullying yourself is by replacing those negative words with positive ones. Many people struggle with positive affirmations as they feel distant to message because they do not believe these things to be true or it just feels more wishful than realistic. But like many things in life we aim to improve, it involves repetition and practice. The same way our physical health may be reliant on CONSISTENT exercise and healthy eating, the same way our mental health is reliant on CONSISTENCY with mind “exercises” that help us renew our mind and transform our thinking patterns for the better.
Positive Affirmations: Application
I recently re-watched Girls Trip (love that movie!), and one thing I really loved is whenever the main character felt a negative emotion she would say the opposite about herself – “I am strong, I am beautiful” and I think that is an amazing way to apply positive affirmations. Although I believe we should not always wait for a negative stimulus before we speak positively about ourselves. If you are struggling to use positive affirmations it is a great place to start.
A few examples:
My work will be recognised.
I can do this!
I am successful.
I’m grateful for the job I have.
I’m bringing a positive attitude to every aspect of my life.
I am happy.
I am moving forward.
I am loved
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”– Romans 12:2
You can not have a positive life and a negative mind– Joyce Mayer
The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.
“Accept yourself, love yourself, and keep moving forward. If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down.” ― Roy T. Bennett
“Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine.” ― Roy T. Bennett